How many smoke alarms do you have and do they work?

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The New Year has arrived and if you’re looking ahead, why not make fire safety one of your priorities?

That is why Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is asking people to make sure they fit smoke alarms on every level of their home and to test them regularly.

It only takes a few seconds and saves lives.

Many people see January as an opportunity to look ahead, and that could include fire safety.

So this month HWFRS is encouraging everyone to make sure they have enough smoke alarms in the home and that they work. It only takes a few seconds and saves lives.

Latest fire statistics reveal that one smoke alarm may not be enough to provide you with the best chance of escaping a fire in the home.

It’s clear that most people know a working smoke alarm can save lives by providing those vital few seconds needed to escape a fire in the home.

But, although over 90% of homes have at least one working smoke alarm in their home, smoke alarms alerted householders to a fire in England in only 45% of cases. The most common reason a smoke alarm failed to activate was because the fire was outside its range.

In Herefordshire and Worcestershire between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2020, there was no fire alarm present in over 1,460 fires and where there were smoke alarms, nearly 500 were not close enough to the fire to be effective. Moreover, 76 had an alarm battery missing, the detector was removed in 35, the battery was defective in 33 and 25 had a fault in the system.

In nearly 170 incidents the fire was in an area not covered by the smoke alarm system and in just under 200 fire incidents, it was established that the smoke detector was not in a suitable location.

For this reason, the Fire Kills campaign and HWFRS are encouraging people in the two counties to have a think about the smoke alarms in their home.

“We must all make sure that we have enough smoke alarms to cover our whole homes,” said Emma Roberts, HWFRS Community Risk Manager. “If you don’t have enough, or they’re not in the right place, you might not be alerted in time.

“The vast majority of us now have at least one smoke alarm in our homes, but early detection and warning is vital to reduce the devastation a fire in the home can cause.

“That’s why it’s so important that you have enough smoke alarms and that they are in the right place to have the best chance of alerting you and your loved ones to a fire.”

Emma continued: “You should make sure you have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, preferably in hallways and landings. And placing smoke alarms near sleeping areas and in rooms where there are electrical appliances could give you the extra warning you need.

“It’s also important to remember that smoke alarms don’t last forever. The power might work, but the detection mechanism deteriorates with time. So whether they are battery operated or wired to the mains, to work at their best they should be replaced every ten years.”

HWFRS offered these smoke alarm top tips:

  • install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home
  • fit your smoke alarms in the right place. The ideal position is on the ceiling, in the middle of a room or on a hallway or landing
  • consider fitting additional alarms in other rooms where there are electrical appliances and near sleeping areas
  • don’t put smoke alarms in or near kitchens and bathrooms where smoke or steam can set them off by accident
  • test each of your alarms by pushing the button every week – why not ‘Test it on a Tuesday’?
  • if you wear a hearing aid, can you hear the alarms when you are not wearing the hearing aid, e.g. at night?
  • replace your smoke alarms every ten years

HWFRS is also urging carers and people who keep a close eye on less able relatives to check that these homes have enough smoke alarms and that they are in the right places too.

Please do not ignore a neighbour’s bleeping smoke alarm.

“And finally,” added Emma, “don’t forget to test each of your smoke alarms regularly: Test it weekly on a Tuesday!”

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Why not book up a FREE Safe and Well Check?

You can book up a free ‘Safe and Well Check’ home safety visit tailored to your own needs, and HWFRS can identify any health and care needs that require signposting to local services to help ensure safety and wellbeing. A Check helps us to help people stay safe, independent and able to stay in their own home.

Safe and Well Checks can advise on:

  • Fire safety in the home, including fitting smoke alarms
  • Falls prevention
  • Winter Warmth
  • Social Isolation and loneliness
  • Crime prevention
  • Smoking

How to arrange a visit

For more information on home fire safety visit here If you would like to see if you qualify for a free Safe and Well Check, call the HWFRS Community Risk team on 0800 032 1155 Option 2.